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Take these crucial steps to avoid the coming 'tripledemic': CDC

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A triple punch of COVID-19, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and the seasonal flu is headed our way, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — and it could overwhelm hospitals and other health care facilities.

Public health officials nationwide have already started to log a steady uptick in cases of COVID-19, as well as RSV.

And with autumn officially starting Saturday, and cold weather not far behind, the agency is warning Americans of a coming "tripledemic."

Fortunately, we have the tools at our disposal to prevent such an event, experts said — but only if the public takes advantage.

"The prevailing notion had been that COVID, flu and RSV ruled our lives," Dr. Nirav Shah, principal deputy director of the CDC, told CBS News. "This is the year that we can turn the tables on all three of those respiratory infectious diseases."

In addition to a new COVID-19 booster shot that's arriving in pharmacies and doctors' offices now, there are also two FDA-approved vaccines for RSV available for adults, one of which is also approved for pregnant women to shield their newborns from RSV.

"We've started to see an uptick in some parts of the country … when it comes to RSV," Shah said. "If you're over the age of 60 or you have a young child, now is the right time to talk with your doctor, talk with your pharmacist, about getting the RSV vaccine or immunization."

Doctors are concerned that people won't take advantage of the vaccines now available to prevent widespread disease. AP

And this year's flu vaccine appears to be highly effective at controlling this season's influenza virus.

But the question of whether enough people will actually get all three shots in time to prevent widespread contagion remains unanswered.

"This is a huge concern," Dr. Eric Cioè-Peña, vice president of global health for Northwell Health, told The Post. "Misinformation is causing people to defer or skip vaccinations that can prevent disease, disability and even death."

His concerns are supported by a recent survey of older adults from the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, which revealed that only 52% were aware of the RSV vaccine, while just 41% of those who said their health is fair or poor had heard of it.

"Urging people to get boosters has really only worked for Democrats, college graduates and people making over $90,000 a year," Dr. Gregg Gonsalves, an epidemiologist at Yale University, told PBS NewsHour.

"Those are the same people who will get this booster, because it's not like we're doing anything differently to confront the inequities in place."

Safe and effective vaccines are now available for COVID-19, influenza and RSV. David McGlynn

The urgency that led to higher vaccination rates, and the public outreach efforts that occurred in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, have largely faded, giving way to complacency and "COVID fatigue" — even as people continue to die from the disease.

Additionally, this is the first time COVID-19 vaccines are not fully covered by the federal government.

Most private and public health insurers will provide them at no cost, but the situation for up to 30 million Americans without health insurance is more problematic.

In some of the most vulnerable communities, such as nursing homes, vaccine hesitancy reigns supreme.

For example, fewer than 55% of residents in Arizona, Florida, Nevada and Texas nursing homes got last year's booster, and some facilities report vaccine rates of less than 10%.

Prison populations have also responded poorly.

In Minnesota, for example, only 8% to 11% of incarcerated people got last year's booster.

Experts recommend that everyone 6 months of age and older get a flu vaccine, ideally in September or October.

Doctors also said that you can get the flu and COVID-19 vaccine at the same time.

The RSV vaccine is only for high risk groups like people older than 60, who can also get a higher dose of the flu shot.

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